Jump to content
Asger

Muay Thai and Masculinity: A talk

Recommended Posts

Hello everyone,

on wednesday I will be giving a talk at the danish art and sports festival Go Extreme https://www.kunsthalaarhus.dk/en/Exhibitions/Go-Extreme where Kevin has kindly agreed to lend me pictures for the powerpoint presentation. The format is very interesting, I think: I will be providing the theory, and two danish muay thai fighters Frederik Fenger and Mikkel Haahr will be displaying the points physically throughout the presentation, concluding with a fight. The argument will be as follows:

The classic golden age muay thai dichotomy of muay femeu and muay khao is well established within these circles: the muay femeu is the matador, the muay khao the toro. The muay khao fights with heart, brute force, intensity, relentlessness, violence and strength; the muay femeu fighter is elegant, intelligent, evasive, transcendent, unphased and manipulative. I will argue that the dichotomy of the dionysian and the apollonian as conceived in the work Birth of Tragedy by Friedrich Nietzsche https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Tragedy is applicable and reflects the same dynamics, ideas and intuitions as our muay thai distinction. Following this, I will use Sherry Ortners classic Is Female to Male as Nature Is to Culture? http://radicalanthropologygroup.org/sites/default/files/pdf/class_text_049.pdf to further the dichotomy, concluding that these dichotomies as historically created reflect the same relation and opposition: male/muay femeu/apollonian/culture vs. female/muay khao/dionysian/nature. With this concessed, we run into an interesting paradox of masculinity: if hypermasculinity is conceived as the capacity for and willingness to use violence, masculinity cannot also be metaphysically defined as an identity that is opposed to (animalistic) violence. 

From this standpoint, I will be arguing with Judith Butler that a metaphysical conception of masculinity as a moral or identity of masculinity is untenable, and that through the Heideggerian reading of the greek truth-concept aletheia https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/heidegger/#ReaRelBeiTim, masculinity is an event of dominance, which does not have an intrinsic and transcendent identity or moral at its core, but is created as art from and in the body of the fighter. The reason muay thai is so interesting as a paradigm for the thinking of gender is that it reveals that masculinity, however, is not something radically constructivist or relativistic, seeing that the fight constitutively has a winner and a loser as its ontological foundation. This implies that masculinity is something that shows itself - or lets the truth of masculinity happen - through the art of muay thai.

 

I will try to get it filmed and transcribed so that all of you who cannot attend will get to see it anyways, but I can't promise anything as of yet. Either way I'd love to hear what you guys think about the reasoning and elaborate in case any of you have any questions.

 

Best, Asger

  • Like 2
  • Nak Muay 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

17 hours ago, Asger said:

Hello everyone, finally got the video, hope you enjoy and looking forward to hear what you think! 

Thanks for posting this, and all the work you put into it, and the English subs. So good, full of thought and the presentation is awesome. My very first response would be that I don't really follow why "Muay Khao" would iconically, or symbollicaly represent the female/feminine in your dichotomy (other than grouping it together with Western equations of Nature with Mother). The reason I raise this question is that in many respects Muay Khao is regarded as more "masculine" or at least manly, in the rugged/tough stereotype. It's the cowboy or rural toughman. On the other hand Muay Femeu stereotypes bend toward the feminine. As Muay Khao Dieselnoi has joked of his femeu friend Samart, "he hits like a girl" (if I recall). The femeu fighter in Thailand, when pushed to the extreme, can be seen as ornate (stylized, almost feminized) and lacking in substance, with many qualities that have been attributed to Dionysus. Not a "real man", if we are really speaking in broad terms, merely performing. Whereas many of the great Muay Khao fighters of Thailand have been some of the most masculine, he-man, hard-hitting/kneeing figures of the sport.

Quote

male/muay femeu/apollonian/culture vs. female/muay khao/dionysian/nature

Maybe I'm not reading your basic dichotomy clearly, but that would be my first question. It feels like you are grafting across cultures and contexts in way that may not fit Thai context?

  • The Greatest 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Thanks for posting this, and all the work you put into it, and the English subs. So good, full of thought and the presentation is awesome. My very first response would be that I don't really follow why "Muay Khao" would iconically, or symbollicaly represent the female/feminine in your dichotomy (other than grouping it together with Western equations of Nature with Mother). The reason I raise this question is that in many respects Muay Khao is regarded as more "masculine" or at least manly, in the rugged/tough stereotype. It's the cowboy or rural toughman. On the other hand Muay Femeu stereotypes bend toward the feminine. As Muay Khao Dieselnoi has joked of his femeu friend Samart, "he hits like a girl" (if I recall). The femeu fighter in Thailand, when pushed to the extreme, can be seen as ornate (stylized, almost feminized) and lacking in substance, with many qualities that have been attributed to Dionysus. Not a "real man", if we are really speaking in broad terms, merely performing. Whereas many of the great Muay Khao fighters of Thailand have been some of the most masculine, he-man, hard-hitting/kneeing figures of the sport.

Maybe I'm not reading your basic dichotomy clearly, but that would be my first question. It feels like you are grafting across cultures and contexts in way that may not fit Thai context?

Thank you very much for your kind words, it honestly means a lot coming from you.

I am definitely grafting across cultures; I tried to group muay khao with the feminine/dionysian/nature through a few points:

1) The connection between cultured and apollonian is obvious; also the connection between the apollonian and muay femeu. This lends credence to the jump from apollonian = muay femeu = culture towards male through Sherry Ortner. If we allow these ''equals'', then the feminine = dionysian = nature, which does not seem far fetched to me (as stated through the quotes from BoT in the presentation, more could be provided), needs to account for the inclusion of muay khao. Honestly, looking back at the presentation now, I probably didn't provide enough argument for this, so let me argue here:

2) The fundamental aesthetics, ethos and narrative of muay is the apollonian aspect of muay thai and what makes muay thai muay thai and not mma without grappling; it is at the core of muay thai. But so is the raw violence - muay thai is not just ceremonial movements, it must be efficient and applicable. The violence that is inherent to muay thai is its dionysian aspect. In the fight, these two opposing but complementary drives are at stake, and obviously it is a dipolarity more than a dichotomy, but on one end is the muay femeu, incarnating the apollonian, and on the other, muay khao, incarnating the dionysian.

3) I was actually trying to formulate your point about Dieselnoi laughing at Samart; any display of masculinity is always also a stylizing of femininity (as they are so conceived culturally and historically!), which is why Dieselnoi can laugh at Samart for hitting like a girl. But imagine if Dieselnoi had lost to Samart, if he had been humiliated in the way muay femeu humiliates muay khao as a dumb beast with no grace nor brains, would he also have added to insult that Samart hits like a girl? I don't think so, because that would have been even more humiliated. 

4) My point was that the stylizing of masculinity, which exists on a continuum of the dichotomies, is always also a stylizing of the feminine, and the muay thai fight is where two styles of masculinity can compete; is the better man the civilised man or the beastman? So muay thai is fundamentally a ritualized fight between the man of man and the animality of man, and this dichotomy (as shown by Sherry Ortner) has historically been genderized. 

 

I hope this sheds some light on why I place muay khao where I do.  

  • The Greatest 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[while writing this I got a notification that you posted in answer to what I've written above, so maybe you've addressed some of these thoughts. I'll post them just the same, as the path of my thought.]

To add...I do think some of the things you are saying about Apollonian clarity, or manifestation DO map onto really important visual principles of clear and distinct strikes, or ruup. For sure. This is really good stuff. But, I just can't get over the inner-contradiction of adding that final male/female dichotomy to your schema. There are just so many instances were the Muay Femeu fighter fighter has strong Dionysian overtones of the "female", at least in terms of hypermasculnity as feminine...and, so many instances where Thais experience Muay Khao fighters as quite manly. Which is to say, the way the gender is read in the culture doesn't seem to map well, or perhaps cleanly, onto a basic male vs female divide.

Here are some photographic evidence.

Samson Isaan in some ways is a prototypical Muay Khao fighter (which you would argue is fundamentally, dichotimously "female". He's named after the region of rural Muay Khao and after a Western tradition strong man. He basically is "He-man farmboy". But you would place him on the female side of the ledger.

273948150_Screenshot2021-12-07170341.thumb.png.ad6de241f7d4327a0ba2c1d909a4de26.png

28668600_Screenshot2021-12-07170409.thumb.png.47430653ea81bc70ac2ccef8f042f12e.png

A lot of classic Muay Khao fighters have just this kind of image, as seen above.

On the other hand many Muay Femeu fighters have the opposite image. Perhaps none personified it more than Samart. The (dangerous) pretty boy. He launched a music career after his boxing career that was keeping with his model good looks:

404252427_Screenshot2021-12-07170854.thumb.png.27fb42ee1ff40384813f01f62bb4d97b.png

2124301608_Screenshot2021-12-07170959.png.ead962843be2cbd58653a5d0f0c1ca28.png

Samart you would have as dichtotimously "male" as opposed to Samson's "female". It feels like there is a pretty big stretch here, taking us far from how masculine and feminine is read in the culture itself. I can see how one can theorize oneself in this direction, defining "male" and "female" in terms that differ from how they are culturally expressed, but it does feel like something really important - and probably layered and complex - is at stake here.

961138113_SamsonandNamphon.thumb.jpg.c8d7f91ffed6b5b3866977886931dc7a.jpg

This photo (above) is my the quintessential Muay Femeu vs Muay Khao dichotomy. Samart (the matador) putting his fraternal arm around Namphon (the bull) who he has bloodied. Who is the "male" and who the "female" in this photo? It feels like the categories would be forced. Instead of a gender dynamic (pretty boy vs the bloodied ruffian), this seems much more readable along the dichtomy I proposed, and I think you read, which creates a spectrum of human<<>>animal.

Here is another interesting photo which places Muay Khao vs Muay Femeu side by side. Dieselnoi and Samart (with Jackie Chan in between). It seems strained to put female on the left, and male on the right.

996082030_Screenshot2021-12-07170938.thumb.png.82758306b2b3ce0517eafb39609c812d.png

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 minutes ago, Asger said:

The violence that is inherent to muay thai is its dionysian aspect.

Just to respond in pieces, even this I don't completely follow. Apollo had the epithet "The far-shooter" referring to not only his attack from distance (with the bow), but also as the god of plagues. You could not see where the arrow of his violence was striking from. It would just be on you. When attempting to separate out halve (or poles), it works much better if they are clear and distinct. Also, there is a lot of Dionysus that wasn't violent. Dionysus was merry, he was ornate.

Quote

which is why Dieselnoi can laugh at Samart for hitting like a girl. But imagine if Dieselnoi had lost to Samart, if he had been humiliated in the way muay femeu humiliates muay khao as a dumb beast with no grace nor brains, would he also have added to insult that Samart hits like a girl?

I honestly think he would. This is the regular "critique" of Muay Femeu from Muay Khao. You've heard fighters lose fights and complain that the opponent didn't even hurt them. Having been around Dieselnoi this is definitely something he would have said (joking), and in fact probably has said of other Samart victorious performances. The feeling can be that the performative bias in aesthetics, from the Muay Khao perspective, actually tips the scales TOO far. Chamuakphet (a Muay Khao fighter) who beat Samart, answered the question of how he lost to him in a later fight when Samart was bigger "I just couldn't catch him" smiling, showing with his hand how Samart moved this way and that. It was honest praise, but it also probably also meant "He just ran from me" (with all the associations that running has). I do think there is a sense that Samart can (unfairly or unmanishly?) run due to the rules, from the Muay Khao perspective. This isn't to say that he isn't lauded and glorified for his smooth beautiful Muay, even by those that lost to him. Just that this "unmanly" dimension is something that haunts all Muay Femeu fighters, as a critique within the subculture, just as all Muay Khao fighters are haunted by the accusation that they are "low IQ" or "just strength".

Quote

is the better man the civilised man or the beastman? So muay thai is fundamentally a ritualized fight between the man of man and the animality of man, and this dichotomy (as shown by Sherry Ortner) has historically been genderized. 

That's a very flimsy bridge to lay all of the gendered dimension we are working with here, I would say. I mean the entire import of the analysis is "masculinity". It feels like a very fast move to go from "animality of man" to "female". I mean, one can make the argument, but if one did, you'd have to account for the very powerful ways in which the "animality of man" is actually experienced as male in the culture, and expresses masculinity. You can't just say Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator is "female" because "nature is often gendered". I mean, these are icons of masculinity in the culture. At least a mode of masculinity. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kevin I think we are saying the same thing - my point was that if you were to rationalize gender metaphysically, you would have to put muay femeu and muay khao on those poles, and what goes to show through muay thai and the Butler/Heidegger reading is that it is impossible to make that dichotomy as some kind of gendersubstance. What I'm attempting is a critique of patriarchal gender dichotomies through it's own reasoning.

Edited by Asger
  • Respect 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

[again, I see you have responded to the above while writing, I'll just post this blind.]

I should say, I think that these contradictions in representation, the difficulty in just popping most Muay Femeu fighters into a "male" box, and Muay Khao fighters into a "female" box, actually comes from the attempt to move from what maybe we'd call ethnography (?) to metaphysics. The contradictions actually, don't mean that it's wrong to attempt the theorizing, but rather than that politics and ideology complexify the entire problem. You touch on this in your presentation when you suggest that provincial males might see the aristocratic boys as sissies (ie, unmanly). That entire inversion of what is manly is at tension here. But, being very broad about it...the "critique" of urban sophistication is that it is "feminine" and the critique of rural strength is that it is "animalistic" or "stupid" (not that it is feminine). Any approach would have to incorporate these poles I think.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Asger said:

Kevin I think we are saying the same thing - my point was that if you were to rationalize gender metaphysically, you would have to put muay femeu and muay khao on those poles, and what goes to show through muay thai and the Butler/Heidegger reading is that it is impossible to make that dichotomy as some kind of gendersubstance. What I'm attempting is a critique of patriarchal gender dichotomies through it's own reasoning.

Okay. But you are the one who included "female" on one half of the bracket. It was your schema. You may be saying that this dichotomy cannot hold, but even at the level of description it doesn't seem to describe the cultural facts on the ground, to start with. But maybe I'm not following you. I just don't see why a starting place would be Muay Khao = female, unless one is just trying to set up a dichotomy that will then be deconstructed. Are we starting with something like: Muay Khao is rural, rural is of the land, the land is often seen as female in cultures? Or, why isn't Samart "Dionysian"? He is ornate. He is gender fluid (in some ways), He is theatrical. I guess I'm just having trouble with the starting point, which is a male vs female division. But I will admit I might not be following it clearly.

I do really enjoy and even love the broad strokes of your thought. And the presentation with all the performance/example is really beautiful stuff. So good. I do love the way you have brought diverse ideas and theories together. It's very good.

  • The Greatest 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

Okay. But you are the one who included "female" on one half of the bracket. It was your schema. You may be saying that this dichotomy cannot hold, but even at the level of description it doesn't seem to describe the cultural facts on the ground, to start with. But maybe I'm not following you. I just don't see why a starting place would be Muay Khao = female, unless one is just trying to set up a dichotomy that will then be deconstructed. Are we starting with something like: Muay Khao is rural, rural is of the land, the land is often seen as female in cultures? Or, why isn't Samart "Dionysian"? He is ornate. He is gender fluid (in some ways), He is theatrical. I guess I'm just having trouble with the starting point, which is a male vs female division. But I will admit I might not be following it clearly.

I do really enjoy and even love the broad strokes of your thought. And the presentation with all the performance/example is really beautiful stuff. So good. I do love the way you have brought diverse ideas and theories together. It's very good.

I guess I may need to put some more thought into how I conceive of muay khao = female, because I'm having a hard time explaining it differently than I am, and it does not seem to be entirely convincing, haha. Yes, it is trying to set up a dichotomy for deconstruction, but it is also trying to conceive of dynamics of gender rather than cultural conceptions of gender. If the format of the presentation were different, I would have liked to establish the dichotomies of Ortner and Nietzsche first. I think that would have made for a more convincing case of muay khao being parallel to female, because it does seem to be more animalistic, and that would be considered closer to ''the female'' in the framework of Nietzsche and Ortner. Mainly it hinges on an understanding of gender as a continuum that constitutes it's pole through the immanent tension itself, rather than through substances at either end.

I suppose that the way I see it outside of this attempt at establishing dichotomies for deconstruction is that muay khao and muay femeu both contend for the right to masculine identity, and both are at risk of being condemned as feminine; muay femeu for being too ornate and ''not having guts'', for not being aggressive and for not being strong enough; muay khao for looking like a dumb beast (many patriarchal societies consider and have considered women dumb, unfit for learning, see Aristotle), for not being able to play by the rules of man so to speak, for not being part of the order.

 

I agree with you that the strongest reading of muay thai is through your span of man-animality, but I wanted to try my hand at doing something similar with gender, because it seems to me (and to you) that there are strong currents of gender identities and dynamics in muay thai. As I mention in the presentation, I don't subscribe to an entirely social constructivist concept of gender, and so it seems to me that muay thai has something to tell us about gender that is more than how it is conceived at x time in y place.

  • Respect 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1085529599_Screenshot2021-12-07214732.thumb.png.385c09456c22b839023c2d5001855ca4.png

I think a really interesting place to start, and the metaphysically strongest foothold is your original appeal to Apollo as distinct, and the sense that (his/the) figure involves the movement from the inchoate (which in at least many societies is chthonic with female associations, though not categorically so). In at least the traditional aesthetics of Golden Age Muay Thai there is a powerful emphasis on distinction, readability, visibility, and even in contemporary Muay Thai you find the criticism of a fighter as muaymua which means indistinct, clouded. A very aggressive, flailing or windmilling fighter is fighting in an unreadable way. Muaymua. You find this in the importance of ruup, which you mentioned, which is ultimately taking the body as a sign, displaying posture, physical control, dignity, etc. A fighter who is off-balance, or who is bent over, or generally lacks readability has lost their ruup. This runs parallel to Buddhistic ideals of self-control. A fighter who cannot control their emotions also can't control their body-signification. This plays into your appeals to Heidegger's truth-event, art as visibility - though I personally feel that Heidegger got alethea somewhat wrong - which helps us understand that in a Muay Khao vs Muay Femeu (metaphysical) battle, both fighters are seeking to make themselves visible & readable. Distinct. I do think it is fair to say that Muay Femeu is further along the distinction spectrum, at least it does not risk lack of clarity quite as much in its style, as it often pays more attention to rhythm and timing (musical aspects of distinction and readability). And the burden falls upon the Muay Khao fighter to show distinction in his/her pressure fighting. Muay Khao legends are very insistent on this with Sylvie when they have instructed her. Do not rush. Find the rhythm, the beat. Make your strikes (which often are at close range) readable. Also, in this battle, the warfare that the Muay Khao fighter brings is to break the illusions of the Muay Femeu fighter's clarity and signified composure. You see this, for instance, in the two big fights that Samart lost (Dieselnoi and Wangchannoi). Once the spell is broken there is very little left. The Muay Khao fighter seeks to break ruup.

But, I think it's a very complex thing to attempt to graft historical male and female expressions onto the inchoate>distinctness metaphysical spectrum, and arrive some beyond-history place. Yes, males (Patriarchy) have been placed at the top of most symbolic hierarchies, but Thailand itself in the 1920s-1950s adopted Western modes of gender distinction, specifically to appear more civilized, less deserving of colonization, more in step with "modernity". Siam was known to commonly not have strong visual distinctions between the genders. Westerners found this inchoate. You can see how historically contingent the application of distinction and gender may be. Also involved in Thailand is the basic tension between cosmopolitan (royal) distinction along those adopted and developed lines, and rural, provincial distinction which may have run along very different tastes and aesthetics. A male body of Bangkok princely signification may vie semiotically with the male body of Buriram signification. It's no easy thing to try and isolate some historical, yet transcendent "female" in this mixed history. In fact it seems like it is probably wrong to do so, or at least highly projective of one's own cultural history and presumptions. 

The "ontology" that you appeal to in traditional Muay Thai, which is to say the ontology of win and loss, itself is conditioned and constructed historically. It relies on culturally developed aesthetics. Even if we grant that these aesthetics developed to reward distinctness over incoherence, the significations of that distinctness, what counts for distinctness, is to a large degree historically contingent. Thais say standing up straight is clear ruup, in Caipoeira it's the crouch. Also complexifying the distinctness measure, even or especially a great Muay Femeu fighter fights with deception and incoherence as a tool. Obscurity isn't only a weakness, it cloaks sudden readability. In some regard both Muay Khao and Muay Femeu are aesthetically mixing incoherence and clarity for effectiveness under that culturally expressive rule set.

  • The Greatest 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I also think that we may run into some problems if we just define Thai hypermasculinity by the appeal to violence. In the West hypermasculinity is often strongly coded by shows of violence. I imagine you've read it but Sylvie's and my article Thai Masculinity: Postioning Nak Muay Between Monkhood and Nak Leng – Peter Vail is really good on this, taking the start from Peter Vail's chapter. We have to say that not only is the "nak leng" (prone to violence gangster tough) Thai hypermasculinity, but also so is the "monk". Both are exaggerated masculine ideals. And that's where the Muay Khao vs Muay Femeu battle plays out. Two models of hypermasculinity.

I think the difficulty comes when we try to graft that historical duality onto let's say Greek mythology and Apollo & Dionysus, or even (Western) ideals of male and female.

The graphic we made from that article:

The-qualities-of-Monk-and-Nak-Leng-in-Nak-Muay.webp.3b288dfe0463d08f2a49cf706512c585.webp

 

  • The Greatest 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you very much for your thorough and dedicated thoughts on this Kevin, it is honestly an honor to have you put so much work into your response. I have taken to heart many of your points, and while I still stand by my points through a charitable reading, some of the blindspots of the presentation have become clearer aswell as the work that I need to put into resolving some of those issues if I get to work further on this. Especially the points on the cultural and historical thai connotations, which you are obviously much more privy to than I, as well as the greek Apollo and Dionysus other than just as conceived by Nietzsche. It really has been great getting all your considerations, and I'm thrilled that you, despite the theoretical issues we discussed, think that this was something nice.

  • Gamma 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/7/2021 at 5:24 PM, Kevin von Duuglas-Ittu said:

1085529599_Screenshot2021-12-07214732.thumb.png.385c09456c22b839023c2d5001855ca4.png

I think a really interesting place to start, and the metaphysically strongest foothold is your original appeal to Apollo as distinct, and the sense that (his/the) figure involves the movement from the inchoate (which in at least many societies is chthonic with female associations, though not categorically so). In at least the traditional aesthetics of Golden Age Muay Thai there is a powerful emphasis on distinction, readability, visibility, and even in contemporary Muay Thai you find the criticism of a fighter as muaymua which means indistinct, clouded. A very aggressive, flailing or windmilling fighter is fighting in an unreadable way. Muaymua. You find this in the importance of ruup, which you mentioned, which is ultimately taking the body as a sign, displaying posture, physical control, dignity, etc. A fighter who is off-balance, or who is bent over, or generally lacks readability has lost their ruup. This runs parallel to Buddhistic ideals of self-control. A fighter who cannot control their emotions also can't control their body-signification. This plays into your appeals to Heidegger's truth-event, art as visibility - though I personally feel that Heidegger got alethea somewhat wrong - which helps us understand that in a Muay Khao vs Muay Femeu (metaphysical) battle, both fighters are seeking to make themselves visible & readable. Distinct. I do think it is fair to say that Muay Femeu is further along the distinction spectrum, at least it does not risk lack of clarity quite as much in its style, as it often pays more attention to rhythm and timing (musical aspects of distinction and readability). And the burden falls upon the Muay Khao fighter to show distinction in his/her pressure fighting. Muay Khao legends are very insistent on this with Sylvie when they have instructed her. Do not rush. Find the rhythm, the beat. Make your strikes (which often are at close range) readable. Also, in this battle, the warfare that the Muay Khao fighter brings is to break the illusions of the Muay Femeu fighter's clarity and signified composure. You see this, for instance, in the two big fights that Samart lost (Dieselnoi and Wangchannoi). Once the spell is broken there is very little left. The Muay Khao fighter seeks to break ruup.

But, I think it's a very complex thing to attempt to graft historical male and female expressions onto the inchoate>distinctness metaphysical spectrum, and arrive some beyond-history place. Yes, males (Patriarchy) have been placed at the top of most symbolic hierarchies, but Thailand itself in the 1920s-1950s adopted Western modes of gender distinction, specifically to appear more civilized, less deserving of colonization, more in step with "modernity". Siam was known to commonly not have strong visual distinctions between the genders. Westerners found this inchoate. You can see how historically contingent the application of distinction and gender may be. Also involved in Thailand is the basic tension between cosmopolitan (royal) distinction along those adopted and developed lines, and rural, provincial distinction which may have run along very different tastes and aesthetics. A male body of Bangkok princely signification may vie semiotically with the male body of Buriram signification. It's no easy thing to try and isolate some historical, yet transcendent "female" in this mixed history. In fact it seems like it is probably wrong to do so, or at least highly projective of one's own cultural history and presumptions. 

The "ontology" that you appeal to in traditional Muay Thai, which is to say the ontology of win and loss, itself is conditioned and constructed historically. It relies on culturally developed aesthetics. Even if we grant that these aesthetics developed to reward distinctness over incoherence, the significations of that distinctness, what counts for distinctness, is to a large degree historically contingent. Thais say standing up straight is clear ruup, in Caipoeira it's the crouch. Also complexifying the distinctness measure, even or especially a great Muay Femeu fighter fights with deception and incoherence as a tool. Obscurity isn't only a weakness, it cloaks sudden readability. In some regard both Muay Khao and Muay Femeu are aesthetically mixing incoherence and clarity for effectiveness under that culturally expressive rule set.

Oh and this is just fucking awesome, such a strong thought that to me seems to present some of the strokes I really wanted to capture but did not manage to articulate this well.

  • Nak Muay 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

50 minutes ago, Asger said:

Thank you very much for your thorough and dedicated thoughts on this Kevin, it is honestly an honor to have you put so much work into your response. I have taken to heart many of your points, and while I still stand by my points through a charitable reading, some of the blindspots of the presentation have become clearer aswell as the work that I need to put into resolving some of those issues if I get to work further on this. Especially the points on the cultural and historical thai connotations, which you are obviously much more privy to than I, as well as the greek Apollo and Dionysus other than just as conceived by Nietzsche. It really has been great getting all your considerations, and I'm thrilled that you, despite the theoretical issues we discussed, think that this was something nice.

You made a very powerful and inspiring presentation of Muay Thai. The combination of performance/example, the ability to present so much of what makes Muay Thai unique among fighting arts, from the ground up to an audience that does not know it, and the great broad brushes of Philosophical thought all came together in just a beautiful public expression of Muay Thai. You should be really proud of everything you pulled off. It was really cool.

  • Heart 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now


  • Most Recent Topics

  • Latest Comments

    • February 1st will present the first all-female card at Lumpinee Stadium, it's GoSport (the promotion that introduced women to the ring there) and doesn't indicate whether all these fights are 5 rounds or if some are 3 rounds. It appears to all be Thai women and the Main Event is Sanaejan (the first female fight for the Lumpinee banner was Sanaejan vs Buakaw, but wasn't IN the stadium due to Covid restrictions, so this will be her first time actually in the Lumpinee ring) vs Somrasmee, who was "Rising Star of the Year" in Thailand's Northern region last year or the year before.
    • All I know is according to some studies, the ketogenic diet can help women lose weight while also improving blood sugar management. Additionally, when administered as a supplemental therapy in women with specific types of malignancies, it may be advantageous. So a good keto diet should consist of roughly 75% fat, 10%-30% protein, and no more than 5% or 20-50 grammes of carbohydrates per day. High-fat, low-carb foods such as eggs, meats, dairy, and low-carb vegetables, as well as sugar-free drinks, should be prioritized. Keep overly processed foods and harmful fats to a minimum.
    • Thakoon Pongsupha, the head of Sasiprapa Gym in Bangkok, is launching yet another TV channel for "Entertainment Muay Thai." In the announcement it reads that fighters who "entertain" in their fights, both foreign and Thai, will have continued working relationships with the promotion. The details have yet to be announced but Thakoon is partnering with his son, Arm (both pictured in the article). I don't know Arm's previous experience with anything to do with either Muay Thai or TV, but assume he grew up at the camp, which is outside Thakoon's home. And as for Thakoon, he has decades experience of running a successful fighter's gym and has worked with foreign fighters almost all that time. He has previously worked with promotions, notably other "entertainment" category promotions like MX Muay Thai, which has disappeared but was one of the earlier attempts at Muay Thai 3 rounds, wearing MMA gloves and focusing on "action." 
  • The Latest From Open Topics Forum

    • February 1st will present the first all-female card at Lumpinee Stadium, it's GoSport (the promotion that introduced women to the ring there) and doesn't indicate whether all these fights are 5 rounds or if some are 3 rounds. It appears to all be Thai women and the Main Event is Sanaejan (the first female fight for the Lumpinee banner was Sanaejan vs Buakaw, but wasn't IN the stadium due to Covid restrictions, so this will be her first time actually in the Lumpinee ring) vs Somrasmee, who was "Rising Star of the Year" in Thailand's Northern region last year or the year before.
    • Thakoon Pongsupha, the head of Sasiprapa Gym in Bangkok, is launching yet another TV channel for "Entertainment Muay Thai." In the announcement it reads that fighters who "entertain" in their fights, both foreign and Thai, will have continued working relationships with the promotion. The details have yet to be announced but Thakoon is partnering with his son, Arm (both pictured in the article). I don't know Arm's previous experience with anything to do with either Muay Thai or TV, but assume he grew up at the camp, which is outside Thakoon's home. And as for Thakoon, he has decades experience of running a successful fighter's gym and has worked with foreign fighters almost all that time. He has previously worked with promotions, notably other "entertainment" category promotions like MX Muay Thai, which has disappeared but was one of the earlier attempts at Muay Thai 3 rounds, wearing MMA gloves and focusing on "action." 
    • Sure!! Please send me the Link To Your Website. I'll take a deep look on the pieces!! I've also using Title's and ES Boxing Gloves. The quality of those products are just fine. But now I'll make sure to try out your Product and give a positive feedback.
    • I don't really think I'd want anything scented in my gloves to be honest. But the packaging looks nice. I wish you the best of luck with your launch.
    • Hi,  My name is Jasper and I live in Brooklyn, New York. I am currently in the middle of making a boxing glove deodorizer and I'd love everyone's opinion on this forum. Just have a couple of questions and pictures. - Among Fresh Linen, Mint, and Lemon which would you prefer the most? I have some final product pictures if you don't mind taking a look. You can check out the final product picture on my business instagram or this imgur link.  https://www.instagram.com/iozakcombat/ https://imgur.com/a/EdMUyV7 Let me know what you guys think!  I will be launching in February so If anyone is interested I am offering discounts just follow my instagram and DM me.  Thank you!    
  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
      1.1k
    • Total Posts
      10.3k
×
×
  • Create New...